For Fred and Linda Burnett two things have always been a family affair: horses and 4-H. The couple’s involvement with Orange County 4-H is what brought their family to Orlando’s Barefoot Stables in 1973, where they’ve been able to enjoy both of these interests.
The Burnett’s 4-H Horse Club was very active in the 1970’s and 1980’s, riding in parades, pony club activities and horse shows. Their daughters participated in horse shows at both the regional and national levels.
While horses were the couple’s main focus, they always encouraged their 4-H club members to branch out into other interests and project areas.
“We always told them they couldn’t just do horses,” said Fred Burnett. “I liked to really encourage them to do public speaking. To me that is one of the most important skills a young person can know.”
Burnett knows this from personal experience. As a young 4-H member in the 1940’s, Burnett worked on public speaking at his own 4-H club meetings and says he uses skills he gained there as a young 4-H member today in his adult life.
Fred and Linda have demonstrated their commitment to the 4-H program through their leadership and active involvement in Orange County 4-H’s development of Clarcona Horse Park, which is now a 40-acre horse park with four arenas that serves not only Orange County 4-H, but also the entire state.
“Fred and Linda exemplify the leadership that 4-H instills in youth,” said J. Douglas Meyers, 4-H Agent, Orange County Extension. “They are role models and mentors to youth throughout Orange County and the state of Florida.”
“With the Bits-n-Bridle 4-H Club, and their other patrons, Barefoot Equestrian Farm is well known for its winners throughout the country,” said Meyers. “Many youth have written term papers about what the Burnetts have meant to them. Their impact on the youth in this state is demonstrated by the many youth wanting to learn and be mentored by the Burnetts.”
It is these youth that have kept the Burnetts involved with 4-H through the years. “We like to help kids. We like to give them something that they can remember the rest of their lives – something positive,” said Fred Burnett.
“Right now as we speak, we have two junior cattlemen at my house for four days so they can attend a short course at Deseret Farms on reproduction. We like to give kids a chance and I’ve seen so many positive things that have come from 4-H,” said Fred Burnett.
Today the Burnetts continue to serve as 4-H ambassadors and volunteers. Fred has served as president of the Orange County 4-H Advisory Board, and has served on the State Advisory Board for several terms.
Both Fred and Linda are active at the Central Florida Fair, and are influential in fundraising for the youth development programs at the fair and the Area D Horse show. The couple helped raise more than $10,000 dollars to build the Central Florida Fair Livestock chutes and scales. Fred has also worked with youth as the “Hunter Show” manager for the first 4-H Horse show at the Central Florida Fair.
“Working with 4-H keeps us young,” said Fred Burnett. “It’s really what keeps us going.”